Children uprooted

Millions of children are on the move. Some are driven from their homes by conflict or disaster; others are migrating in the hope of finding a better, safer life. Far too many encounter deadly danger, detention, deprivation and discrimination.

A child is carried in a suitcase, Syrian Arab Republic
UNICEF/UN0185401/Sanadiki

The challenge

Millions of children migrate safely, for educational and employment opportunities, in search of a better life. 

Millions more, however, are forced or uprooted from their homes by violence, war, poverty, persecution, exclusion, and the effects of climate change.

 


 

A boy sits on a bed and looks at a bird, Honduras

Risking it all: To escape violence and poverty, thousands of children make harrowing journeys trying to reach the United States.

In spite of what happened to her brother, Jackie wants to migrate: “It terrifies me just to think about it. But it also terrifies me to live this life, knowing there is no hope. At least I can take the risk, and have some hope.”


 

It should be a no-brainer. A child is a child, no matter why she leaves home, where she comes from or where she is and how she got there. And every child deserves protection, care and all the support and services she needs to thrive. But too often that’s not the case.

 


 

Two children look out a window, Germany

Seeking Asylum in Europe: Having risked all to get to Europe, many refugee and migrant children find new obstacles on their path to asylum.

“The process is a lot slower than we expected,” he says. “I spend so long there, at the different offices.”


 

Migrant and displaced children face many challenges in transit and at destination, often because many of them have limited options to move through safe pathways and with their families. They often encounter violence, abuse, exploitation or discrimination. They miss out on education and proper medical care. The fact that they are newcomers can hinder their inclusion – especially hard as they try to learn a new language and integrate into a new culture.

These difficulties have lasting physical and psychological effects.

 


 

These kids show a child is a child no matter what.

“We all have mothers. We all have family members. We are all children”

The solution

Children around the world, regardless of where they’re from and why they’ve left their homes, should be treated the same.

Children should feel safe from violence and exploitation. They should be able to stay with their families. They shouldn’t have to miss school or not be able to go to the doctor. They shouldn’t fear xenophobia or discrimination. They should be able to feel at home – wherever home is.

UNICEF works around the world to help make sure migrant and refugee children are protected and that their rights are respected. We provide lifesaving humanitarian supplies in refugee camps. We run child-friendly spaces – safe places where migrant and refugee children can play, where mothers can rest and feed their babies in private, where separated families can reunite. We support national and local governments to put in place laws, policies, systems and public services that are inclusive of refugee and migrant children, address their specific needs and help them thrive.  We collect, analyse and disseminate data. We help keep families together and provide support to family-based solutions that are alternatives to the detention of migrant and displaced children. We work with governments, the private sector and civil society. We want to empower children and youth who are uprooted with cutting-edge solutions, and facilitate ways to make their voices heard.

The solutions exist, and they’re attainable. Learn more about our Agenda for Action to support children on the move.

 


 

A boy in a red shirt with a plastic bowl crosses a dusty landscape with people lined up in the distance.

As Europe and North Africa tighten borders, migrant children expelled to Niger in greater numbers.

“Solutions must include improved cross-border cooperation between governments to keep children safe”